On my last real cultural outing before absconding from New York to Portland, a friend of mine and I visited the MoMA QNS — the temporary gallery open to the public while the main MoMA building underwent reconstruction. I found myself utterly transfixed in front of a white on white canvas. Standing there, I felt something grasping at my throat which placed me in an almost pleasant paralysis. What I had encountered was Barnett Newman's painting The Voice
A few months later, my friend sent me a copy of Barnett Newman, a book that includes an extensive catalogue of Newman's works as well as two essays by Ann Temkin and Richard Schiff that place Newman among his contemporaries of the New York School such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollack. For me, Newman's paintings, with their characteristic vertical stripe — or zip — touch upon the sublime; and musing over them I am reduced to interior movement, bereft of adequate language, I am at once stirred and calm. Although I'm grateful for the essays, what I return to in this book again and again is the meditative space that the color plates of Newman's work afford me. Indeed, in some of my darkest or most reflective times I find solace in these reproductions of 18 Cantos, The Stations of the Cross, and Vir Heroicus Sublimis, to name a few.